We’ve been hearing a great deal about the “abuse” of Open Space sims (and some people have talked about abuse on Governor Linden sims, but so not going there).
But what does this appalling abuse involve? I’ve talked to several people, all using Open Sims in different ways. One is an estate owner, Fatima Ur. Then there’s a small business owner, Soliel Snook of Snook’s Garden Centre. Then there’s Roberto Viking who has his home on an OpenSpace sim he shares with a friend. And lastly there’s Francesca Cassini, who has been using an OpenSpace sim to support a non-profit, 46664, Nelson Mandela’s AIDS charity, which does amazing work in Africa.
What has their experience of OpenSpace sims been?
The Home Owner: Roberto Viking
Back at SL5B, Philip Linden told a revealing story, the significance of which, I think, escaped him.
“We had a sort of a fighting area and then we had a kind of a boardwalk and a disco and I do not know who remembers all of these things, but there were these structured pieces of Second Life that had been the Lindens’ best guess at what people would care to sort of start with in the virtual world. I remember that within just a couple of months, the content build-out was so radical, the amount of things that people had done to change the world so accelerating, that we found ourselves sort of giving the keys to our cherished builds that we had started with over to Residents so that they could tear them down and do things with them.
“I have a great memory of this myself that is, perhaps, apropos to an event like this which was I built the first disco, the Alt-Zoom Disco in Second Life, and I actually built it with my own hands and it was a few months after we started that someone, I do not remember who the leader sort of Resident was, but they demanded that I sell the disco to them because they wanted to tear it down and build houses there. And, so, we did that; I gave the disco to whomever it was, maybe somebody can shout out and tell me who it was, I have forgotten, and they had this ceremony where they blew up the disco and tore the walls down and let the whole thing collapse and then deleted it all and I remember I viewed that with a certain feeling of bittersweet where it was so exciting to see the world evolving so rapidly beyond our control.”
For Philip, the point of that story was the bittersweet feeling of seeing his own work destroyed and knowing that the residents were fulfilling the creativity he had envisaged.
To me, the crunch of that story is that those early residents looked at what the Lindens had given them … and decided they wanted homes instead.
Homes they built, and furnished. And, to be honest, this desire hasn’t really changed much. Overwhelmingly, the desire of residents is still for homes, a piece of the grid that they can colonise and make their own.
And, with the Open Sims, with the doubled prim count, Home Owners thought they’d achieved their desire.
This is the story of one such home owner.
Roberto Viking is basically a hobby user of Second Life. Although he has been a host for Radio Riel and writes articles for The Primgraph, he doesn’t make any significant income here, and instead pays tier on the OpensSpace sim Quiet Island from his real life. The same is true of his SL sister (and co-owner) Luise Docherty.
Before owning Quiet Island, both of them had experience of owning land elsewehere, on the mainland and on private islands.
“Prior to coming to Quiet Island, Luise and I were neighbours in adjoining properties in another Fantasyland sim, Green Acres (a parcelled, rental sim), and in adjoining properties in Caledon. I’ve been a resident longer than Luise, having a 512 first land parcel in Alice, on the mainland, for most of my first year in Second Life. In Green Acres, we were unhappy with the transitory nature of a public, rental sim, where our neighbourhood, and the tone of the island could change from week to week. What was a beautiful mountain with a cute cabin one week, could become an unsightly, GOR castle the next week, filled with persons practicing a lifestyle repugnant to us, shouting constantly in the local chat, running scripts that lagged the performance of all the sim residents, and destroying the visual beauty of the island, bulldozing greenhills and forest to place desert terrain and gothic castles. Free movement across the sim was often disrupted by ban lines and security orbs. My experience with the mainland was spoiled by adfarms, and commercial builds, including BDSM sex shops being dropped into the middle of a residential neighbourhood, and Alice was a GOOD sim.”
One solution was a location that had a stricter covenant – and Roberto and Luise both owned property in the very popular Victorian state of Caledon.
“Caledon was the antithesis of this chaos,” explains Roberto, “giving us the kind of environment and community we both wished, but, being a premium location, was too expensive for us to own very much property, and the level of privacy was still not what we wanted, though a vast improvement over Green Acres, and the Mainland. Though we no longer own property in Caledon, we still both participate in the society of Caledon, and consider ourselves Caledonians.”
With these issues, the opening up of the OpenSpace sims with increased prim allowances and detachment from other island sims seemed like a godsend.
“When the prim allowance for an Openspace Sim was doubled, the price decreased, and made available much more readily, Luise and I realized for exactly what we were paying for in Green Acres, we could get the space, prim, privacy, and control that we both desired. It was a no brainer. We sold our other lands to finance the upfront cost, and eagerly moved into our own place. As soon as we first set foot on the island, we felt like we found our home – sounds corny, but true.”
So – how did they use the new land at their disposal?
“We use Quiet Island as a refuge from busy, stressful RL lives, where we can enjoy our joint hobby/craft of building, visiting with our close friends and each other, and de-stressing in a peaceful environment of our own devising, where we have a great deal of control over our environment and who we share it with,” says Roberto. “The entirety of our environment, we have devised to suit us; from the landforms, to the landscaping, to the houses we use, and even much of the furniture. I would estimate that we each spend about half our Second Life time on our island.”
Their sim is not under-used. And yet Roberto and Luise took pride in using what they had bought responsibly. They have built their individual homes here, landscaped meditation places, and created common spaces such as workspaces, a chapel, a small pub to entertain friends at, a mermaid/man grotto, and so forth. They have so far used about 3/4 of our prim allowance, trying to keep the remainder free for their building hobby. The script load is modest, usually around 750.
“We share this space in a minor way (200 prim or so), with a couple of friends, who each have small workspaces on the island, valuing the solitude of Quiet Island for their crafts,” Roberto explains. “Other than hosting one wedding, with an attendance of about 15, the island population is usually 4 or less people. On a time-weighted average, since Luise and I have regular day jobs, it’s less than one.”
Neither Roberto or Luise run businesses in Second Life, so there is no source of compensating SL income, nor do either of them want to essentially take on “second jobs” in their Second Lifes. The costs incurred in Second Life are coming out of their real life funds, their “hobby budget”.
So now that the price of Quiet Island is set to rise by 66%, the future is stark.
Quite simply, the price rise will drive them out of their home. The new price is beyond what they can budget for a hobby- it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
“We can’t simply ‘sell more skins, or dresses or what have you’,” says Roberto. “It is too much. We feel betrayed by Linden Labs. When the estate provider ups our rent, we will have to leave, probably losing all or much of our invested capital. We will either be homeless, or be required to inhabit a smaller place, losing much of what we like best about Quiet Island, and our current SLives.”
Roberto and Luise are among those examining some of the opensource simulator grids, and may emigrate out of Second Life for their residence, coming into Second Life only to visit with friends that remain here.
I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in the love and passionate creativity that the Open Space sims have provoked to take a look at Crap Mariner’s Flickr Group: Second Life – Openspace/Void Sims